Mother, fitness/health blogger, and nutrition coach, Joanne Encarnacion, better known as GOFITJO, is balancing it all and just recently added one more thing to her plate. Between raising two daughters, balancing a healthy lifestyle, and sharing her fitness/health journey with us through social media and her blog, Joanne recently launched her latest undertaking: a totally free (yes you read that right, free!) recipe and food-prepping guide. From meal-prepping tips to what you should be buying at the grocery store, Joanne’s guide shares a collection of her favorite go-to healthy recipes. We were so excited when we heard about this, so we caught up with Joanne to ask her a few juicy questions all about her guide!
WW: What was the inspiration for creating GoFitEats? Was there a demand from your readers who were inspired by your journey into a healthier lifestyle?
GFJ: I wanted to create an easy guide for people to use when it came to some of my recipes that I share on Instagram or my blog. I would often get questions about meal prepping or healthy eating because I’m a busy career mom who loves simple, healthy, and no fuss meals that I can enjoy and my family can enjoy too. I think there will always be a demand on finding inspiring ways to eat healthy not just from my readers but from everyone in general, so yes I would say there was a quiet rumbling demand for one.
WW: We love all of the recipes that are included in GoFitEats! Which one is your favorite go to meal?
GFJ: I think my favorite go to meal is the simple ground bison that I turn into a bison bowl like I suggest in the recipe guide. It’s a great dish to prep and serve on top of others for a healthy dose of lean protein. I often times have the bison and quinoa together topped with an egg for breakfast for a protein packed meal before my workout or post workout.
WW: Last year our company, WiseWear, gifted you the Duchess from the Socialite Collection. As well as tracking activity, the Duchess counts calories. Do you find this feature to be helpful when planning meals throughout the day?
GFJ: I rarely count calories these days since I focus more on intuitive eating. However I think in the days where I used to it probably would’ve been an amazing tool to have. I’m a huge fan of intuitive eating because listening to our bodies has become a lost ancient art.
WW: We know instead of cheat meals that you call them victory meals. So when you indulge in a victory meal what does it consist of? Do you prefer something sweet or savory?
GFJ: I’m a huge fan of both. I love me a really good burger or a meal high in protein like pork chops or a steak that I didn’t make. After that victory meal I’ll need some sort of sweet to balance it out. Sometimes a kid sized gelato or frozen yogurt does the trick!
WW: How do you stay organized while prepping your meals? Is their any advice for people looking to do the same thing?
GFJ: I’m pretty nerdy when it comes to organizing my fitness and my meal plan. I typically use a program called My Fitness Pal to create my menus for the week, I don’t fully track macros since I don’t have any specific goals in mind but I do like to pay attention to my body and listen to the queues. So providing myself a little structure helps me to understand what sort of carbs or proteins don’t do well for me in that week. Then I import that entire PDF into an app called Evernote so I can sync it across my devices along with my weight training splits. It’s a little OCD, but totally works for me. When it comes to meal prepping I like to cook all my proteins using one heat source. For example if I’m baking fish, then I’’ll bake or roast my veggies along with it. If I’m using the grill, it’ll be grilled veggies for me that week. It helps me keep meal prepping enjoyable by not having so many pots or pans to clean up. After that I line up all my meal prep containers and its like an assembly line measuring things out and packing it up.
WW: Where did you come up with the rules in the GoFitEats guide? We especially love Rule #1!
GFJ: These were my own rules to live by the moment I learned how to balance out my dedication to my fitness goals when I was competing to then living a balance and normal none athlete lifestyle. Rule #1 is also my favorite because I think we forget to enjoy life when we become so focused on a fitness goal or perfecting the week by checking off all the clean meals or the workouts we need to accomplish. There’s so much pressure around showing others we’re working hard towards our goals when in reality we need to be proving that hard work to ourselves.
WW: Are any of the meals in the GoFitEats guide inspired by your Filipino roots?
GFJ: Not in this one, but I do need to share my chicken adobo. Maybe that’ll be in an upcoming guide!
WW: Do you incorporate any of your mother’s cooking techniques when creating your meals?
GFJ: I incorporate them when cooking Filipino dishes. My mom only cooked Filipino food so she wasn’t one who grilled, baked, or roasted her dishes. We ate a lot of protein based stews, rice dishes, and fried foods.
WW: What are some of the challenges you face when meal prepping?
GFJ: Let’s be real, boredom. Some days I’m really kicking myself in the butt for having to eat the same set of meals for 7 days straight. So what I started to do was meal prep twice a week, on Sunday and on Wednesday. This helped me stick to the same macros and main ingredients while switching up the flavors and seasonings.
WW: The GoFitEats guide encourages readers to plan ahead and prepare meals for the upcoming week. What if some readers cannot prepare ahead or forget to take a meal with them if they are out of the house. Do you have any advice for eating healthy when out running errands or traveling?
GFJ: My favorite “oh crap I forget to pack my meals” place to eat is Chipotle, I can always get burrito bowl and half them ease up on the carbs so I can stick closely to the menus I’ve created. Another little life hack would be to simply pack some almonds in your bag or in your car. Raw almonds are such a great source of healthy fats and protein that can help to keep you satiated throughout your busy day. If you’re traveling and in an airport, try to go for the fresh stuff rather than anything that comes in a package. I know that might be challenging and cost a fortune, but your health is wealth. If you invest in yourself in little increments like choosing a healthier salad option over a bag of chips then in the long run you might save yourself a buck or two when it comes to medical bills.
WW: We love the section Spice It Up in the meal planning guide! (The Hawaiian Marinade sounds especially tasty). Which one is your favorite? Is there a favorite among your family?
GFJ: The Hawaiian Marinade is a family favorite and personal favorite. We love that marinade on everything. The other might be the lemon one because you can add any other sauces on top of your protein to flavor it a little differently.
WW: For those reluctant to take the plunge into meal planning/prep (or those who just think they don’t have the time or patience for meal planning) what words of inspiration or encouragement can you offer them?
GFJ: I would say just try it for a week. You don’t need to commit to it for a lifetime and do what works for you. Some weeks I only prep two meals for 3 days because I know I’ve got a busy social calendar which requires me to dine out. I rarely have a fear of pulling out my tupperware in public but somedays I want to eat on a plate just like the rest of the group.
WW: We would love to know what you’re currently working on and what we can expect to see from GoFitJo in the future?
GFJ: You can expect me to build out more video content library on my YouTube channel and take 1 on 1 clients for holistic health and nutrition coaching. I’m hoping that by 2018 I’ll be gearing up to start hosting wellness retreats both in CA and in Hawaii, mainly Hawaii.